The majestic trees at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Peradeniya presented us with the serene freshness only trees can offer. Here 8000 species flourish, cared for and protected with much love and affection.
A handful of lovers of nature enjoyed the bliss of being amongst these majestic trees with the sun streaming through them thanks to a well organized tour conducted by Ruk Rakaganno.
The scenario was so different from the usual casual visit to the gardens, for we were to be introduced to some of the 8,000 species protected and cared for within the boundaries of the beautifully laid out Botanic Gardens.
Subashini Seneviratne, a botanist attached to the gardens introduced us with much love and affection as if it was her immediate family to the many plants, beginning with the Double Coconut palm from Seychelles which produces the largest seed in the plant kingdom and takes five years to mature.
The Pride of Burma which blooms at various times, peaking during the end of the first half of the year, stood out as the most spectacular of the flowering trees.
Within the 147 acres, the Bamboo grove along the bank of the river to the right of the lake was another wonderful sight. The average growth rate of a new shoot of a Giant Bamboo is a foot per day.
The memorial trees near the Arboretum can be the most significant endemic and indigenous collection on the island. Then there were the herbs, spices, orchids, begonias and aquatic plants, all marvels of the plant kingdom.
We lunched at the restaurant facing the Fig tree from Java on the great lawn. The restaurant boasts of a book shop with an array of books on history, culture, fauna and flora of Sri Lanka.
The afternoon was spent at the herbarium studying the scientific methods of identifying and preserving plant specimens. The collection, dates back to the 19th century and the library consists of books and paintings from the 17th century. The plant specimens are maintained meticulously. The botanists of the herbarium travel all over the island deep into the forests collecting new specimens.
Seeing this dedicated team of scientists working with commitment and enthusiasm, augurs well for the future and we have no doubt that they will leave behind a wealth of information and protected specimens for the generations to come.